Choose the Best Hilti Laser Level – 5 Easy Steps
If you’re shopping for a Hilti laser level, you’re obviously looking for a high-end, durable and precise solution that is going to last years and years. That’s what Hilti laser levels have come to be known for: top of the line products with unmatched durability and the industry’s best warranty. While Hilti laser levels are revered for their quality – their product line is quite limited compared to major consumer brands like Dewalt and Bosch. Hilti makes relatively few laser levels, but they are some of the absolute best levels on the market today.
Read through the brief guide below to help you narrow down your choices to put your finger on the Hilti laser level that’s best for your individual purposes. Before you spend to much time wading through the specs for each model, take a quick look at their pricing to make sure you’re comfortable with the investment that’s necessary to obtain one of these. They’re generally designed for professionals whose work both demands precision, and justifies the expenditure. I have used layman’s terms in this guide and throughout this site as much as possible. You might find some helpful definitions and explanations in the laser level FAQ.
An Easy Process to Choose the Best Hilti Laser Level
The steps below will help you to quickly thin out your options by eliminating different types of lasers from Hilti’s product lineup. The types of lasers offered by Hilti are generally consistent with industry standards – although Hilti does offer some innovative pocket laser products that you won’t find elsewhere. Narrow down the type of laser you need first in order to find the right product as quickly as possible.
When you have identified the correct type of laser, your next step will be to consider the various features and benefits of Hilti’s product line within that type. Be certain that the model you select performs all of the basic functionality you will need in the course of your work. But be careful not to overspend on optional features that you aren’t likely to use during normal use.
So, without further delay, let’s take a closer look at the basic options you have to choose from – along with some tips and pointers that you might not have considered:
First Consideration: What is Your Required Range?
Perhaps the easiest way to narrow down your choices is to decide on a rough guideline for how much range you’ll need to do your average job. This number can vary greatly, depending on the type of work that you do. If your normal job is indoors in a limited space – for instance carpentry, cabinetry, or bathroom remodels – your required distance will be fairly short and you’ll almost certainly be fine with a line laser or a cross-line laser. The industry standard for cross-lines laser is in the 30-50 foot range, and a Hilti laser level will fall at or above the high end of that range.
If the majority of your projects take place in larger settings like commercial buildings or outdoor spaces, it’s more likely that you’ll be looking at a rotary laser level. Rotary lasers range up to well above 150 feet when paired with a receiver. And as with the cross-line laser levels, a Hilti laser level will probably fall at or above the high end of the industry’s standard range.
Second Consideration: What is Your Required Line Configuration?
Hilti’s product line includes some variety of laser line configurations. Their pocket lasers are all composed of a single straight line; however their cross-line and rotary options come in an assortment of configurations with different lines and plumb points.
Think about your typical application, and determine how many lines and/or points would be ideal for you. If your work frequently involves depth considerations, a laser with 3 vertical lines may be necessary. Examples of this requirement would be tile work, shower and bath stalls, custom shelving and closets, etc. If your typical application only requires measurements for height and width, a 2-line laser will likely work for you.
You’ll find that the cost of the laser level is directly proportional to the number of lines and/or points – so put some thought into this to ensure you’re not overspending on features you don’t really need. As an example, the popular Hilti laser level PM 2-L which has only 2 red lines can be purchased for lest than half the cost of the PM 4-M which has 3 vertical lines and 1 horizontal line.
Third Consideration: Does Your Hilti Laser Level Need to Self-Level?
As you would expect from a premier product line like Hilti’s, all of their cross-line and rotary laser levels include a robust and reliable self-leveling capability. The only exceptions you’ll find will be in their line of single-line pocket lasers.
In a self-leveling laser, a pendulum within the laser enclosure allows the unit to level itself anytime it is placed in a position that is somewhat near level. As you would expect, this feature greatly speeds up the process of setting up the laser and moving it in between different locations. It also adds to the overall cost of the laser level.
If you don’t select a self-leveling laser, keep in mind that you’ll need to take the time to re-level the housing manually each time you relocate the laser to a different position. At the end of the day, the decision you’re making here is really one of cost versus convenience – and only you know which of those two factors is more important to your current buying decision.
Fourth Consideration: What Projection Radius is Right for You?
Most rotary laser levels project their lines at a 360° radius. But if you’re looking at cross-line laser levels, you’ll find that there is a wide spectrum of different coverage from the different models on the market today. Some jobs – like painting, framing, and ceiling work – are made much easier with a 360° radius. For other jobs like closet and cabinetry installation, the radius is much less important. To help with this decision, imagine yourself on a typical job site and visualize how the laser will work within your setup. If you’re sure that you need to have 360° coverage – then don’t compromise on this feature. If you think full coverage is optional, you can save yourself quite a bit of money by selecting a laser with a smaller projection radius.
At the time of this writing, there is only one cross-line Hilti laser level with a 360° radius. Hilti’s most popular models, the PM 2-L and PM 2-LG, have a radius that’s closer to 180° on both the horizontal and vertical planes. Both of these lasers are considered industry standards for quality and performance. So you can see that many top professionals don’t think 360° coverage is really a necessity. The importance of the projection radius really depends on the type of work that you’re typically doing.
Fifth Consideration: Red or Green?
Green laser diodes are generally more powerful than red lasers. This is an unintended consequence of a technical difference in how the two diodes are constructed. The result is that green lasers are considered brighter and easier to see than red lasers… with one important exception. In bright daylight, green lasers disappear in the sunshine worse than red lasers.
Having said that, please don’t assume that all red lasers are easy to see in bright, direct sunlight. The fact is that a laser is nothing more than a concentrated beam of light – and all lasers become hard to see when ambient lighting is bright or intense. Hilti’s red lasers have an excellent reputation for visibility in bright conditions. But the only sure-fire way to beat bright light is to make sure your laser supports pulse mode and has a compatible sensor (or receiver). With a sensor, your range is consistent regardless of the ambient lighting. There are some additional ideas about working in bright daylight in this post.
Finally, green lasers are more expensive than red lasers. So if you’ve narrowed your choice down to one model – don’t assume that the green unit will have the same price tag as the red unit. Green is always more expensive, and you should expect to pay a premium of that’s what you need.
Selecting the Best Hilti Laser Level
The best part about picking a Hilti laser level is that the product line is relatively small. With some other brands, you’ll wade through an endless sea of options – and it can be hard to put your finger on the minute differences between similar models. Hilti manufactures a small selection of premium lasers – so it’s much easier to pick through the specs and options.
I hope that the five suggestions above will help you to quickly and easily identify that Hilti laser level that will work best for you. If you run into any roadblocks, feel free to get in touch. And don’t forget my advice above to imagine yourself on a typical job site and visualize the way a particular laser will work in that scenario.
If you’re looking for a detailed review of a specific Hilti laser level – check here. Good luck with your decision!